‘Clytie’ – Frederic Leighton, 1890 – WikiArt
“Our consciousness is shared, is one with all humanity.
You don’t see the beauty of it, the immensity of it.
You will go back to your own pattern, thinking
you are all individuals, fighting, striving, competitive,
each wanting to fulfil his own beastly little self.”
~ J. Krishnamurti (Mumbai Public Talk 3, February 1985)
Why has humanity left this whole field of knowing ourself — all the spiritual endeavour, the extraordinary adventure that it is — outside the conventional and widely accepted way of living? It is a difficult thing to understand, since the door to it is so wide open and evident. Of course, religions are there, and have taken an all too consuming place in the past, but yet to no real avail. For an immense majority of people, religious faith didn’t go very deep, and didn’t put much of a light on the everyday suffering of humanity other than being a widespread system of morals and rituals destined to give some rules to society, and to instil fear, consolation or respect. So why has this understanding been confined to only a few, scattered individuals? Why has it not yet become the one accepted and necessary endeavour of our lives?
Maybe we do not realise — beyond its utter simplicity — the depth and complexity of this understanding. Maybe humanity has a flow, a momentum to respect. We see it in many human lives, even the ones which have at their core the spiritual endeavour, and are embracing it with fervour. Life’s secret is not to be so easily cracked. We have to come to it with respect and an attitude of absolute humility and surrender. The nature of our true self, of our innermost being, is asking for such abandon. It is in its nature. It is its magic password. We may have no particular understanding or interest, but have all doors open and the right mantra to precipitate us into the open field of ultimate knowing. Or we may find the doors of being locked again and again in spite of an unmatchable dedication for, and a subtle comprehension of the path towards true living.
Could it be only a lack of right education, of competent guidance? Yet the guides and pointers have been numerous along humanity’s path. But they have been understood by very few. And there is a plain cause to that: Meister Eckhart was judged heretic, Rumi’s teaching was re-qualified as being mere poetry, Brother Lawrence was an obscure lay brother, Krishnamurti was a creep, and Ramana Maharshi only an idealised image of the Indian guru. As for the celebrated Buddha and Jesus, they have been locked down into the maze of religious complexity. And so on… The list is long of such ignored lights of humanity. Everything was dealt in such a way that they could be kept inoffensive in spite of their holding the keys to ultimate understanding and happiness. What is this concealing force in humanity?
Is humanity equipped with its own giant ego or separate self? See with what cunning ability a single self can avoid dying in the grip of ultimate, non objective being. How do you think the cunningness of a whole humanity can be in comparison? With what impervious defences can it keep itself at a distance? In what variety of ways can it keep looking in the other direction? See what it takes to move a single man towards understanding, and only imagine what it would take to move a whole humanity. So our initial question is partly answered here. There are forces against this understanding that run through humanity. But although of an immense scope and strength, these forces are nevertheless of the same nature than the ones running in one single apparent person. These forces are: we — humanity — have made the deadly mistake to believe that objective experience is the means towards happiness. But happiness is not meant to be run after. It’s been there already all along. And the cause for our not seeing it is precisely our chasing it in the wrong direction. This is what makes us miss it again and again. This is what makes us push it as an unattainable thing although it is in fact the very intimate and never absent nature of our being.
Yet there is in humanity — or in any single human life for that matter — so much love, courage, dignity. Think of the absolute dignity that human beings reflect in spite of untold miseries or difficulties. Think of the courage always ready to appear in the face of new challenges or situations. Think of the strength and abundance of love found in so many mothers, lovers, friends, strangers. We should be amazed at how many of these qualities are already on display in a humanity that is supposedly ignorant. Where do all these come from? I have met and observed countless beings who show in their lives all the qualities that are often believed to be the direct emanation of enlightened ‘being’. There are so many people who, though having no interest whatsoever in spirituality or any kind of ultimate understanding, show qualities and intents to do good to a level that is difficult to understand. They seem to have it all. They lack only one single thing: they are suffering. There are weeping in their heart, craving for an ultimate release whose nature they do not yet understand.
Maybe humanity is not a stupid and immature child eager to sabotage itself with the last burst of unconsciousness or ignorance. Maybe humanity is an ageless guru having a momentary lapse in its meditation and will regain self-control to reveal its infinitely wise and loving nature. Maybe humanity is ready to espouse the clarity of its own being with only one small hint, like a sage who has already done decades of training under the guidance of a guru, and needs only one final word for his release. Maybe humanity is already, without our knowing, fully realised. Maybe humanity is only lacking the simple awareness or inward realisation of its already realised being. This may be all there is to spiritual understanding: a realisation, a ‘Oh yes!’, and then the whole humanity — everything — will be seen basking in its eternal and absolute being, will be seen in its true, already implemented nature, instantly, in ‘no time’.
‘The Coast of Aegina’ – Frederic Lord Leighton, 1867 – Wikimedia
Of course there is in the world an intolerable amount of ignorance and violence. Of course there is fear, duplicity, hatred, anger, desperation — all found in most human beings at various levels and in various amounts. But let’s not be misguided or blinded by the overwhelming place that these take, and forget the silent workers of humanity, whose number and power are unmatchable. We all know there is a thin and almost invisible line between our being in the darkness of ignorance — its horrendous consequences — and our espousing the clarity and light of our own being — with its delight. So humanity can change in one single leap of understanding, like a human being can. So the task now appears to be of a nature that can be more reasonably undertaken or assumed. Why should humanity need ever more meditations and prayers? Prayer is already all there is to humanity. And there is more meditative state in every baby’s innocent gaze, in every old man or woman waiting for their impending death, and every timeless hour spent in the silence of deep sleep, that we could ever effort to produce.
Could it be said that there is no real humanity as such? That the society of humans is made of one single absolute being that is refracted in countless souls? That the activity of these souls reflect their connection or absence of connection with the being that gives them birth and essence. So humanity is a dream, and society as it is today is the organisation born out of the common ignorance of its many body-minds. And society makes every possible arrangements to prevent the arising of any rule breaker among itself. Society is blinding itself with ignorance. It is a shield to push truth outside of its boundaries. It doesn’t desire truth. It thrives on the ignorance that gave rise to it and gave it its power, meaning, and wealth, be they erroneous and wrongly acquired ones. That’s why civilisations are destined to slowly fail and die, for they are built on the grounds of both lie and deception. They are doomed and their impending doom is resulting from the truth they have been designed to ignore.
But let’s not condemn humanity any more than we should condemn any human being. Let’s not condemn an old sage for having a momentarily lapse. Why do you think that enlightened beings see and approach other beings — be they immersed in ignorance — as their equal? Why do you think there is a love always ready to burst for every single man or woman in spite of the storm of their wickedness? Why is it that we can see endless beauty in a world degraded and corrupt? Why are we moved by humanity’s eternal quest towards happiness — its repeated efforts to break through its intolerable suffering, should it be a self-inflicted one? For one reason only, which is the presence of love or compassion not only in the deep recesses of our heart, but as the very nature of our eternal being. Such love is the shared being, the common ground of our human experience, and one that is always ready to burst in the darkness of our ignorance.
We should look at humanity with infinite compassion and embrace it. We should see that its momentary lapse is our lapse too. See that its violence is our violence too. That its confusion is born out of our own. Embracing our humanity is the only way to realise the truth of our shared being in the middle of the battlefield of our separateness. Neither humanity nor ourself are to be defined by the expressions of our ignorance. To be in humanity’s arms is to espouse its essence, which is love. And this mariage includes the surrender of all our common deviances and separative reflexes into the common ground of our shared being. This is how humanity — and ourself — can be saved, in involving every one of its aspects, and rejecting none. This is the price for a true and successful alchemy. We are the alchemists of humanity. This is the extent of our responsibility. We are humanity’s healers. Anything else — any sense of withdrawal, separation, exemption from our humanness — will make us postpone humanity’s deliverance process, and ours too.
So we need to embark in an inward dialogue with humanity. After all, humanity is nothing else but our humanity, our humanness, which is to be found in our shared being. Our healing is its healing too. Our abandon in the common ground of being is hers too. And there is one thing necessary for this ultimate free fall: it is to be on the edge of a cliff. Are we not?… Are we not standing precariously over that edge at every hour and second of our lives? Is not the edge our very sense of being a private self, a separate entity pretendedly in charge? And is not the precipice for our fall the precipice of just being? Being that ultimate being which is nothing but god’s very being? Is not the free fall not even a fall but one single, infinite gaze on the very being that we are but have been made blind to? And then basking in the silence that is found — eternally? Being is our ultimate arm or tool. One with untold efficacy. One that is mightier than all the swords of the world, all the impending wars, all the cunning ignorance.
Text by Alain Joly
Paintings by Frederic Leighton (1830-1896)
– ‘Krishnamurti’s Notebook’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Krishnamurti Publications of America, US)
– This is Meister Eckhart (Meister Eckhart, 1260-1328)
– Rumi (Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi, 1207-1273)
– The Practice of the Presence of God (Brother Lawrence, 1614-1691)
– A Day at Brockwood Park (Jiddu Krishnamurti, 1895-1986)
– Rendezvous with Ramana, Part II (Ramana Maharshi, 1879-1950)
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